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Walmart Lot on the Agenda for Tuesday's Special City Council Meeting

The council meets in closed session at 6:30 p.m.

A possible lawsuit and the Walmart lot are topics scheduled for discussion at a special closed session Hercules City Council meeting Tuesday, Jan. 30.

There are only two items on the agenda. No other details on the anticipated litigation item are available.

The second item has to do with negotiations on the city-owned Parcel C, or “Walmart lot.” 

The meeting is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. at .

*Correction--When first published, this article said the council would discuss the future site for Safeway. It will not.

Phil Simmons January 31, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Susan Do you mean as in "we have nothing to report"?
Carol January 31, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Glenn - Councils meet in closed session so that the negotiations are not compromised. If the people interested in bidding on the property hear what the counsel is willing to negotiate or offer - you give up your hand. You cant have it both ways.
Glenn Abraham January 31, 2012 at 08:43 PM
Carol: I realize that there are valid reasons for secret sessions, such as the actual negotiations. The council could still come to the public first (by publicizing the proposal and asking for comment) to see if we even WANT this, before they lock us in with negotiations. Secret sessions have valid purposes, but can easily be abused, as the Valstad Council happily learned. We should MINIMIZE the secrecy as much as possible. I've not yet seen an explanation of why this whole Safeway thing has gone so far and so quickly without public input.
Phil Simmons January 31, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Carol, You can have it both ways because not everything about selling a property or buying a property is about the negotiation. It is not all about the price or the terms. Much of a land transaction is about land use, intentions of use, and many other things. A lot of things that have led to the disasters we have seen has not been about the negotiations that can be held confidential within the Brown Act. Most of the problems have come from things that can be open if chosen to be open. Unfortunately the choices made have been to hold things closed within the letter of the law but could have been open.
Glenn Abraham January 31, 2012 at 08:58 PM
The Valstad/Ward Council used secrecy for piracy. The proper lesson from that is that secrecy should be minimized, used only when necessary (and the council should publicly justify the invocation of secrecy whenever they wish to use it). The lesson seems not to have been learned.
Carol January 31, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Ugh. I know that past counsels have been lying, cheating scoundrels. But I think you guys need to back off a bit. Everyone is jumping to conclusions, making assumptions etc. They have the right to go into closed session and talk about negotiations and potential lawsuits, personnel issues etc. It is obvious you both automatically assume they are going to pull a "Olivabalico" on us. I can guarantee that no matter what happens, there will be people in the community that do not agree with any deal or decision they make. Our city is bleeding to death. I would like to see the original master plan, but that AINT GONNA HAPPEN. I do not think some "insisted" on the closed session because of confidentiality - they "insisted" because you cant negotiate if the other party or parties know your hand - which is exactly what would happen if it was open to the public. How hard is that concept and why does everyone have to continually ASSUME the new counsel is trying to screw all of us? I am also absolutely SICK of hearing the word "TRANSPARENCY" We elected a new counsel. Given them a chance and stop assuming. They have a HUGE mess to clean up and they do not need this added to the mix.
Hector Rubio January 31, 2012 at 09:15 PM
This closed session sure came out of nowhere. I agree that purchase price negotiations can be held behind closed doors, but how about telling the public what sort of land use is being proposed? How many dwelling units? Multi-family, single family, neighborhood shopping center? etc. If the purchasers do not want their name mentioned during negotiations - that is fine; however, let the town know what kind of proposals are on the table and get some feedback from the people - before signing on the dotted line.
Glenn Abraham January 31, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Exactly. Totally. Completely.
Phil Simmons January 31, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Carol, Again, for me the debate is not about the negotiations for any of the parcels. It IS about the plans, hopes, dreams, vision, and effort that is or will be made toward the 2010 Central Plan, the Waterfront Initative, and all of the efforts that the concerned public has fought for for a long time. I do not agree that it AINT GONNA HAPPEN. It can happen. It should happen. The debate is about convincing the council and city staff to take that paths that lead to these better results. I am giving them a chance to do just that. But I get the distinct sense that much of the "unspoken" discussions are about abandoning those very things. I do not believe that this abandonment will be in the best interest of the city or in my best interest. I do not think the council is trying to screw us. I think they are trying to do the very best that they can. But I do not assume that they always know what is best for us. Quite the contrary. I believe the public input and the publics involvement will lead to what is best for us all. I trust all of the council as private citizens, I trust they are doing what they think that they can. But this does not mean that I am will to just let them do as they see fit. They are citizens just like the rest of us. They are not especially more capable than the rest of us. Let the public participate. That's all...........
Phil Simmons January 31, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Hector, Thanks for weighing in. I believe that the process we are seeing is setting the entire effort up for failure. That would be a real shame. We do need to move on the properties the city owns but the effort will be nothing more than an exercise if done in a manner than fails due to public pressure. That pressure is best relieved by a process of inclusion. Simple as that.
Glenn Abraham January 31, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Phil, I agree. Absolutely. Totally. Every single word. I could've written this myself. With one small modification: You say "I trust all of the council...." I would say 80%. And I would point out that all of this terribly sensitive information, information with which the public simply cannot be trusted...all of this is being shared with M. Boulanger. How comfortable should we be with that?
Carol January 31, 2012 at 09:31 PM
ugh. I give up. it is all going to be a moot point now that the city will default and are being taken to court. Bankruptcy - here we come....
willie January 31, 2012 at 10:14 PM
in my one dealing with the city council in a private session, they were quite clear that they don't want people looking through city records or letting information get to the public except after it has been censored. this council may not be a whole lot better than the [multiple] scum that have screwed us over the years. I am concerned that Hercules is heading down past the toilet and I regret the day I bought an expensive home here. I wish I could undo it without a big loss.
Glenn Abraham January 31, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Which specific (named) councilmembers "were quite clear that they don't want people looking through city records or letting information get to the public except after it has been censored."?
Douglas Bright January 31, 2012 at 10:30 PM
I would like all potential buyers to know our hand = the development must conform to a publicly debated and majority approved set of design and use requirements. How would that knowledge compromise negotiations? I am not talking about price points or escrow contingencies. I'm just talking about things that should be openly understood by everyone who wants to build on these parcels. The city telling us what the potential buyer of Parcel C wants to do with the land would not hurt negotiations, nor would the city publicly re-affirming the range of acceptable developments on the land. These are commitments that should not be on the bargaining table and our vision for the future of the city should not be a point of secret negotiation with private developers.
Phil Simmons January 31, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Phil Simmons January 31, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Douglas, Well stated, thank you.
Phil Simmons January 31, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Glenn, Thanks for saying so. I undertand your point and I understand that history usually is a pretty good teacher. But I have to also say that redemption can make an excellent professor.
Glenn Abraham February 01, 2012 at 12:41 AM
Perhaps, but redemption is much less common than recidivism.
Phil Simmons February 01, 2012 at 02:07 AM
Glenn, Well yes that is so. But I my sense of this holds to a higher hope and expectation.
RJ February 01, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Your right about that Willie and there are a bunch of folks that cuss the day they purchased in Hercules. Just beware, if you disagree with the usual bunch that are here everyday, you will come under attack. The handful of regulars do not like anyone outside of waterfront groups thoughts.
Glenn Abraham February 01, 2012 at 03:06 AM
I'm a regular, and I don't much care about the waterfront. I do, though, care about honesty (balico and Boulanger) and secret government (Safeway).
Susan D.Keeffe February 01, 2012 at 03:31 AM
@ Carol, I can't answer your question because as far as I know the Council didn't report out. I disagree with Phil re the Brown Act but neither of us are lawyers. I think the concern is keeping the public informed and a part of the process as much as the law allows. What was discussed may or may not have been specified by the Brown Act but if they don't tell us what was discussed wr'll never know.
Phil Simmons February 01, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Tax-payer, Actually there are members from several differing viewpoints here on the Patch and often the arguments fly. The fact that there appears to be a lot of pro waterfronter's is because there are probably far more pro waterfronters in town that anti-waterfronters. The waterfront project is a great project worth fighting for. That said, Now......Everyone.......Pile On!!!!!
Phil Simmons February 01, 2012 at 03:40 AM
Susan, Though I know you can't believe everything you read take a read on the Wiki article about the Brown Act. I think you will find it enlightening. Here is it's final comment: "While it is clear that the Brown Act was intended to give the ordinary citizen a "seat at the table" of his or her public bodies, these examples demonstrate how the Brown act is sometimes employed to defeat its own intentions, ...." Here is the entire writing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_Act
Phil Simmons February 01, 2012 at 03:48 AM
A short comment from the Sacramento Bee: "The Sacramento Bee said of the act: A law to prohibit secret meetings of official bodies, save under the most exceptional circumstances, should not be necessary. Public officers above all other persons should be imbued with the truth that their business is the public’s business and they should be the last to tolerate any attempt to keep the people from being fully informed as to what is going on in official agencies. Unfortunately, however, that is not always the case. Instances are many in which officials have contrived, deliberately and shamefully, to operate in a vacuum of secrecy.[3] [edit]"
Susan D.Keeffe February 01, 2012 at 04:58 AM
Phil, Great articles! We are on the same page after all. Now I need a single word that describes an open process visible to the public so the term " transparent" can be laid to rest I'm tired of it too!
Glenn Abraham February 01, 2012 at 05:09 AM
Re Phil's quote from the Bee: this quote, and its concept, should be put on the agenda, for the council to discuss, publicly, seriously. At the next REAL council meeting, the PUBLIC meeting, on Valentine's Day. Not at the kind of secret meeting they snuck off to last night.
Phil Simmons February 01, 2012 at 05:10 AM
It's about the spirit of the law. What they "may" do verses "must" do. What the are "allowed" verses what is "required" It is not that difficult. The intent of the Act is to force open meeting, not too require closed ones.
Glenn Abraham February 01, 2012 at 05:21 AM
The issue shouldn't be whether the council has a legal right to conduct the people's business in secret. That, it always seemed to me, was Mick Cabral's conception of the law and the role of the lawyer, which is to get away with the maximum possible, using tortured interpretations of language and total disregard for legislative intent. I'm pretty sure Patrick Tang is different, and does not see the law an an instrument for WITHHOLDING the maximum from the community (in order to give the council the maximum of what THEY want), but rather as an instrument to GIVE to the community. I would be very much interested in Patrick's argument for the necessity of last night's meeting to have been held in secret.


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